This Christmas Tree Tear-and-Share Bread is the perfect side to any holiday meal, it’s cute, easy, and can be made ahead the night before for a low stress gathering all round! It’s not so garlicy or cheesy as to overwhelm, but feel free to dial it up!
Bread making doesn’t have to be hard, in fact this takes about 20 minutes hands on time, total! It’s a real crowd pleaser and could easily be scaled up to suit any size of gathering.
250g strong bread flour
4g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
100g shredded mozzarella
1 tsp crushed garlic
small handful fresh parsley or basil, shredded
– Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the yeas to one side and the salt to the other.
– Mix to combine.
– Add the olive oil and most of the water, keep a little in reserve in case it’s too sticky.
– Start to bring the dough together in the bowl with your hand, or a dough hook attachment on a mixer.
– If using your hands, when the dough has formed tip out onto a worksurface and continue to knead by hand until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. If using the dough hooks continue to knead in the bowl.
– Set in a clean, oiled bowl and cover. Leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
– When the dough has risen add the cheese and garlic and knock it down. Knead in the bowl until the cheese and garlic are evenly distributed.
– Grease an oven proof dish.
– Pinch off small balls of dough, about the size of a walnut. I needed 23 balls.
– Roll them in your hands and arrange them in the dish to form a Christmas tree!
– Now you can cover the dish with clingfilm and keep in the fridge overnight, or you can set aside at room temperature for another 30 minute rise.
– When you are ready for your bread get the dough out of the fridge and heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C or higher.
– Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
– Immediately upon removing from the oven, dot the bread with butter.
– Scatter the parsley on top for a green Christmas tree!
An excellent salsa recipe. Related very closely to the Tomato and Red Onion Salsa but to be honest this recipe varys every time I make it according to what’s on hand.
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
1x200g tin sweetcorn, drained
1 large red onion, chopped
4 salad tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp ground corriander
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (less if you want a milder salsa)
2 tbsp lime juice
– Drain most of the juice from the tinned tomatoes and discard (or drink!).
– Mix everything together in a bowl then leave to stand for at least 1 hour at room temperature or in the fridge overnight.
I’m all for oven chips. They’re great. Not much fat and the perfect vehicle for sauce. But you never eat an oven chip and go, “mmm”, do you? Sometimes you need a proper deep fried chip. Fat be damned! Tonight was one of those nights.
I was afraid of the deep fat frier for a long time. It’s boiling oil!!! But I faced up to my fears one night and discovered that actually, it’s not so scary after all. So long as you’re careful and don’t go sticking your fingers in or anything like that it’s not the hideously dangerous exercise I thought it might be! I’ll fry all sorts of things now where previously I’d have found a way round it so give it a go! You might just surprise yourself.
Allow about 2 average potatoes per person. Judge it by eye.
– Switch on the deep fat frier and allow it to get up to temperature.
– Peel the potatoes and cut into half, or thirds, dependent upon the size of your potato and then slice into chip sized chunks.
– Scatter into the frier to separate out the slices. If you have more chips than cover the bottom of the basket then do this in batches.
– Lower the basket into the oil, shut the lid and cook for 6 minutes.
– Take out and put in a warm dish lined with kitchen paper and keep warm. Cook the next batch and do the same then set aside while you cook the rest of the meal.
– Just before you are ready to serve tip the chips back into the fryer in one batch and fry for another 2 minutes.
– Tip back into a warm, lined bowl and serve. I always serve with a sprinkle of ground salt but if you’d rather add salt at the table then do so.
The filling for these dough balls came from a recipe called Italian Chicken so I thought I’d carry over the name. Rather than being Italian in style the mix of flavours is what makes it Italian. The tang of garlic mixed in with the bursts of tomato over the creamy base makes and excellent, and moreish, combination. Tonight we had Italian Chicken and I thought I’d make some dough balls filled with the left over cheese mix. I’ve tweaked the recipe from the first time I made Dough Balls and now they’re even better! They only take an hour to throw together so it’s perfect if you don’t have time to make bread during the day.
Makes 12 dough balls
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp (approx 4g) fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
250g soft cheese
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp herbes de provence
– In a medium sized bowl mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre.
– Tip the water and oil into the well.
– Mix together with a wooden spoon until the mix comes together into a dough.
– Once combined tip our onto a floured worksurface and dust with flour.
– Knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
– Set aside to rest in a covered, lightly oiled bowl for 10-15 minutes.
– Meanwhile mix together the cheese, garlic, tomatoes and herbs in a small bowl.
– Lightly knead the dough so all the oil is absorbed.
– Divide the dough into 12 balls, covering the dough you aren’t working with.
– Roll each ball out into to a circle about 3″ in diameter.
– Place a heaped teaspoon of cheese mixture in the centre of each circle.
– Gather the edges of the circle together and pinch closed so the seam disappears.
– Place in an oiled baking dish leaving a little space between balls.
– Bake at gas mark 7 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown on top.
– Serve warm to enjoy them at their best.
I love this dish. It’s much more fiddly than simply steaming some potatoes it’s true but it’s such a delicious side dish that I think it’s well worth the effort. I first had this only a year or two ago in France and it was the high point of possibly the best meal of my life. I have to apologise for this being another recipe which really needs specialist bits and bobs but I’ve had the mandoline out and I’m in love with another kitchen gadget! It’s magic, I was so impressed with how easy it made slicing everything up so thinly. I may even have to try making my own crisps. I’ve also made this dish with celeriac recently and I have to recommend that as an excellent way to eat it. I hate celery with a passion, it’s one of the Five Foods of Doom that I will not eat, so I was a bit worried but celeriac dauphinoise was a delicious introduction to the vegetable and not celery-y at all. The creamyness of this dish goes very well with beef, I’ve had it with steak, boeuf bourguignon and, tonight, roast beef.
Serves 4 generously
approx 3 large potatoes (Use your head and cater for how big a dish you want to fill and how big your tatties are.)
splash of milk
2 cloves garlic, very finely sliced (I used a mini mandoline, also very useful!)
2 tsp thyme leaves
– First peel your potatoes and slice finely, preferably with a mandoline if not be careful!
– Heat the cream, butter and milk in a pan until piping hot but not boiling.
– Grease an oven proof dish and pour in a shallow layer of cream.
– Lay potato slices on top of this, scatter with a few garlic slices, sprinkle with a bit of thyme and season with salt and pepper.
– Spoon more cream over this then another layer of potatoes on top, scatter with garlic and thyme, season and repeat until you reach the top of your dish or run out of potatoes. (I try to keep back enough good slices to make the top layer aesthetically pleasing and bury the tatty bits in the middle.)
– If you have any cream left pour this on top.
– Cook in the oven at gas mark 7 for an hour, placing foil on top to prevent burning half way through.
– Test with a sharp knife to see if it’s cooked through, there should be little to no resistance.
This recipe was actually for spinach gnocchi, however, despite following the recipe to the letter when the time cake to cook the gnocchi it was evident that in no way was this going to work! I tried a few anyway and I was right, these were never going to be gnocchi. So I grabbed a baking dish and deposited it all in there, grated some cheddar and parmesan on top and bunged it all in the oven for 25 minutes. Sorted! It turned out to be a surprisingly good bake so no harm. I will be trying another recipe for gnocchi in the future but not for a while I think! For a picture see the previous post.
Serves 6-8 (depends how much you like spinach!)
150g parmesan, grated
3 tbsp flour
50g grated cheddar
– Rinse the spinach and put it in a large pan with the lid on for a few minutes until it has wilted. You may have to do this in batches.
– Turn out into a collander and press out all of the water.
– Return to the pan and add the ricotta and butter. Heat through until the butter has melted and all is combined.
– Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.
– Spoon into a baking dish and chill for 30 minutes. (The chilling may or may not be necessary for a bake but I was trying to make gnocchi so see what happens!)
– Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and bake at gas mark 6 for 25 minutes until the cheese is golden.
Or for those of a non Scottish persuasion, Swede and Potato Cake. This was served as an accompaniment to our Chicken and Mushroom Pie the other night. It was supposed to have slices of Pancetta or streaky bacon on the top/bottom but the bacon had gone off. Oopsie! I shall give the recipe as for bacon but it was perfectly nice without it. I could, of course have just served swede and potato mash but serving it as a cake and cutting slices is a much more fun way of presenting a vegetable. The crispy edges were rather nice too! One note though, my ancient masher isn’t great at getting to the very bottom of the pan so there were larger lumps of swede in this, with a better masher I’m sure you could achieve a finer consistency.
1/2 a large swede
3 baking potatoes
approx 6 rashers streaky bacon/pancetta
a good knob of butter (approx 50g if you’re measuring)
– Bring a large pan of asalted water to the boil on the hob.
– Peel and chop the swede and potatoes into roughtly 1cm chunks.
– Add the swede to the boiling water.
– After 10 minutes add the potatoes.
– Continue to boil for another 20 minutes until a sharp knife goes in smoothly.
– Drain the water from the pan and return the swede and potato to a low heat to dry out any remaining water.
– Remove from the heat, add half the butter, season to taste and then mash.
– Grease a round ovenproof serving dish, or even a flan dish or sandwich tin if you don’t have anything else suitable, with sunflower oil.
– Arrange the strips of bacon in a cross, then add in extra stripes on the quarters, like the union flag.
– Scoop the mash into the dish and smooth over the top.
– Dot the remaining butter all over.
– Place in the oven at Gas Mark 7 and bake for 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown on top.
– Run a knife around the outside to losen then turn out onto a serving plate.
– Cut slices to serve.